Author: Bhashyam Kasturi
Publisher: Vision/Orient paperbacks
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170943280
This book explores the political and personal life of Mahatma Gandhi through the traumatic period, 1946-48, which saw the partition and independence of India, and the worst-ever communal holocaust in the subcontinent.
A central attempt of the book is to understand how partition came about even as Gandhi’s strongest convictions were against such a division. It traces Gandhi’s role within and outside the Congress and describes how the Mahatma was politically sidelined from the very start of the negotiations for the transfer of power. The author suggests that Gandhi’s political marginalization arose from his differences with the Congress over India’s future. The end result was that when the Congress agreed to the partition of Bengal and Punjab in March 1947, it did not even consult the mahatma; he was in the picture, but out of accord with congress policy. Ultimately, the Mahatma’s efforts to avert partition came to naught both due to his political isolation within Congress and his inability to find a viable alternative, acceptable to all sides.
The chasm between what he cherished and what he saw happening, left Gandhi with a deep sense of failure. Sensing that his political views counted for less and less, Gandhi accepted the reality of partition-thought he could never personally reconcile to it-the turned his attention to dousing the raging communal fires. Thus, his astonishing Noakhali pilgrimage, and his fasts in Calcutta and Delhi which gained him both unprecedented admiration and ultimately cost him his life.
Truly, as B R Nanda says in his foreword to the book, the last two years were the saddest and the most heroic of Gandhi’s life.
The overriding impression of the period is that of a man walking alone, holding steadfast to his conscience and convictions as his only true guides in a situation which both saddened and bewildered him. The book also offers some clues to help unravel the enigma of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal life and discusses his fasts and the controversial brahmacharya experiments of his last years.
The book also offers some clues to help unravel the enigma of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal life and discusses his facts and the controversial brahmacharya experiments of his last years.
The substantial foreword by B R Nanda, himself an eminent biographer of Gandhi and Nehru, enriches and adds depth to the book. In writing this book, the author has drawn upon the vast quantities of still unpublished material on Gandhi which is now available.
Explores how partition came about despite Gandhi’s strong personal commitment to an undivided India.
A concise and scholarly narrative.
-B R Nanda
FOREWORD BY B R NANDA
The Cabinet Mission
Ekla Chalo Re: Noakhali
>From Wavell to Mountbatten
Calcutta, September 1947